Warren Buffett: 'I feel terrific,' and moves toward succession are not related to my health

  • "I'm in remarkably good health," the 87-year-old Buffett tells CNBC shortly after Berkshire Hathaway announces the appointment of two new vice chairs.
  • The billionaire investor is a known fast-food and soda junkie who keeps long hours. In 2012, he completed treatment for prostate cancer.
  • Buffett says that if he were experiencing any health issues, he would tell the board and Berkshire shareholders right away.

Warren Buffett told CNBC on Wednesday the appointment of two new vice chairs at Berkshire Hathaway is "part of a movement to succession over time," and has nothing to do with any change in his health.

"I'm in remarkably good health, particularly concerning the life I've lead," Buffett said in a "Squawk Box" interview from Omaha, Nebraska, where Berkshire is headquartered. "Everything physical, your balance isn't as good, your endurance might not be as good and all that. So I've slipped in various ways. But I wasn't much to start with," he said jokingly.

The 87-year-old billionaire is a known fast-food and soda junkie who keeps long hours. In 2012, he completed treatment for prostate cancer.

Buffett told CNBC on Wednesday that if he were experiencing any health issues, he would immediately tell the board and Berkshire shareholders.

"I feel terrific. I love what I do. I can't wait to go to the office in the morning," he said. "There's nothing I'd rather be doing."

Earlier Wednesday, the Omaha-based conglomerate announced the appointment of Gregory Abel, 55, as vice chairman of noninsurance businesses, and Ajit Jain, 66, as vice chairman of insurance operations.

"They are the key figures," Buffett said. "They both have Berkshire in their blood."

"There is not a horse race at all," he added. "They both have their areas of specialty."

Buffett and his 94-year-old longtime partner, Charlie Munger, are staying in their respective positions as chairman and CEO and vice chairman.

Responding to an analyst report that predicted Buffett could possibly run Berkshire for the next 10 years, the Oracle of Omaha said that sounds a bit long. "But every time I see one of my doctors, I just say, 'Guarantee me five more years.'"

The hard-driving Buffett, who has been reluctant to name a successor, said in the past that Berkshire's board knows who would take over if something were to happen to him. He reiterated that on Wednesday.

Speculation had centered on Abel and Jain as possible successors, and Buffett told CNBC that elevating them would have also made sense five years ago. He said he decided about six weeks ago to make the move, saying to himself, "why not now."

To accommodate Abel and Jain in their new roles, Berkshire's board has voted to increase the number of directors from 12 to 14.

It was Munger's idea for Abel, Jain, and himself to all have vice chair titles, Buffett said.

Abel joined Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company in 1992 and currently serves as its chairman and CEO. Jain joined the Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group in 1986 and currently serves as executive vice president of National Indemnity Company with overall responsibility for leading Berkshire's reinsurance operations.